A Beginner’s Guide to Visiting a Michigan Cannabis Dispensary

Image via Kimberly Boyles / Shutterstock.com

By Jessica Strachan

May 25, 2023

We’ve got you covered on all the FAQs of what to expect behind those dispensary doors in the Mitten.

GIVEAWAY ALERT: Our friends at Redemption Cannabis are giving away a carton of joints to one MichiGanja reader. Sign up for our newsletter to find out how to enter.

MICHIGAN—Five years into the business of recreational cannabis use, Michigan dispensaries are growing like wild flowers—each with their own appeal. 

These brick-and-mortar weed shops are as diverse as the consumers shopping there. That means there’s something for everyone. And while options are always great, this guide is to help you narrow down which one(s) might be your best fit.  

Because when hunting for the best place to get your herbal merch, there’s definitely a few things to consider—or, dare we say, high-light. 

Rolling Up to Your First Dispensary 

You might be considering which pot shops are located closest to you. But that’s certainly not the only (and possibly not even the most important) factor in choosing the right dispensary. 

Hours: Most local dispensaries close by 9 p.m. (The good news is, we’ve already curated a list of places across Michigan that stay open late or even 24 hours). For what it’s worth, many spots offer extended hours on weekends. It is best, however, to check the retailer’s website or social media pages. 

Reviews: Sometimes, it’s helpful to hear what others’ experiences were like to get more nuance than a simple dispensary listing. Keep in mind, though, that you want reviews of the location and service (cleanliness, accessibility, feels safe, etc.) and not reviews of how individuals personally responded to the products themselves—yet. 

Amenities: Dispensaries are made to cater to the modern Michigander, offering everything from delivery to curbside pickup. It’s worth checking in on some of these extra services that might make your visit more comfortable or convenient. Look no further than Google for a snapshot on basics like delivery and curbside pickup (an in-demand feature post-pandemic), but individual dispensary websites always have the most detail on what they can offer you as a customer—some even have drive-thrus, because it’s 2023 and we’re on the move. 

Deals: Speaking of offers, it’s fair game to want a good deal on your herbal products. And while Michiganders aren’t clipping Sunday newspaper coupons for these kinds of specials, we recommend Leafly or Weedmaps for a roundup of discounts, promotions, and offers to save a few bucks—and maybe even score a few freebies to try. Both these websites not only showcase sales and deals around the state, but they are a great resource to research fact-first info on products, strains, and continue your journey to being cannabis savvy—without the stigma. 

READ MORE: California Brand Expands to Michigan With ‘Good Old-Fashioned’ Weed

The Vibes: Cannabis is more than a product; it’s a culture. And you’ll find that while dispensaries have some basics to expect in terms of running safely and legally, most have their own vibes. As with any shopping, dining or health experience, it is a huge part of what makes or breaks a trip. Maybe you’re looking for clean, simple, sterile, and safe. Perhaps a little 1960s nostalgia from the heyday of when hash became celebrated is the pick-me-up you need. You might even be a traditionalist who prefers a more apothecary-style shop where you can find herbal products fused with all that’s native in Michigan, such as lavender and cherry. This is part calls for exploration, an open mind, and listening to what feels right to you. 

Hashing Out Your Ganja Goals 

To help you have a meaningful conversation about buying marijuana products, spend some time thinking about what you want to get out of a session with weed. Here are some questions to help you get started. From there, you can hash it out with the budtenders and experts inside. 

  • What effects am I looking for? Examples include a better night’s sleep, increased appetite, more energy, creative flow, or maybe even something to address inflammation, anxiety, or  pain. 
  • What forms am I most comfortable with? Any that I am not? 
  • Do I need any tools, storage supplies, or the like for my preferred products? 
  • Any concerns that would help me clear my mind ahead of time?

It’s in the Bag 

You’re finally out the door, ready to do some shopping. You’ll just need to bring along a few things: 

  • ID: All authorized shops will ask for your identification. Usually, a driver’s license or state ID are used, to 21 or older, per our local government. And just like with medicinal patients, the state of Michigan keeps a database of legal buyers, so you’ll likely see the receptionist scanning your info into their computer for safe record keeping. 
  • Cash: Dispensaries have a bit of an uphill battle to accept credit cards and debit cards the same way as your local coffee shop or shoe store. Until it’s a mainstream service, it’s best to plan to bring some cash. Because of this, many dispensaries have placed an ATM inside their lobby as a convenience to customers who only carry plastic. 
  • Storage: Products will come sealed for freshness and no smell, most often in very discreet bags, too. But depending on what and how much you purchase, you might want to transport it back in another container. Check out carrying requirements for Michigan buyers here.  

The Pot Shop Experience 

Knowing what to expect before you cross the threshold—including typical safety measures—into a Michigan dispensary will set any new customer at ease. Here are a few quick notes and tips:

Security: It’s not uncommon to see and first be greeted by security employees, similar to entering big box electronic stores or high fashion boutiques in malls. They are usually friendly and there to ensure everyone enjoys their shopping experience. In other words, they’re keeping an eye out for theft or rowdy customers. 

Check-In: Most dispensaries have a separate lobby area for checking in with your ID and entering your information into the system Michigan uses for tracking cannabis sales, called Metrc. Beyond logistical data collection, the waiting area helps create a buffer so the shopping area is manageable for customers wanting a personalized experience. This will seem standard to a doctor or dentist’s office. When it’s your turn to explore the product area, they’ll buzz you in through a locked door. 

READ MORE: Visiting a Michigan Marijuana Dispensary for the First Time? Knowing These 10 Terms Might Help.

The Shopping Experience: You’ll likely be personally welcomed as you step into a world of healing and happiness. Employees are there to help answer your questions. They are there for you, so find a budtender you feel comfortable with and take the time you need. Almost all products are behind enclosed spaces for neat display. When you want a closer look, your budtender will assist you. They’ll also be the ones procuring your purchase and ringing you up to complete your order. At no time should anyone be haggling with you, pushing, selling outside items, pressuring you, or popping up with surprises.

The Transaction: Remember, many places are still cash-based, but you’ll find some advanced dispensaries are set up to take cards and electronic forms of payment. You can get a receipt as with any other sale, and yes, expect to pay taxes on buying recreational cannabis products of any kind—that’s how and why (politically) Michigan campaigned to allow recreational use for funding streams to support infrastructure, schools, etc. If you’re doing the math, it’s 6% sales tax plus a 10% excise tax. 

The Transport: It’s legal to purchase and carry 2.5 ounces of weed from each recreational transaction (not for resale) or up to 15 grams of a type of marijuana concentrate. Don’t light up or consume on your drive home and you should avoid any run-ins with authorities. At home, you can collect and store up to 10 ounces of marijuana flower in a secured location. 

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